Holding onto the tree trunk with her legs, she carefully drew the sword she kept strapped on her back. It’s been almost a week since he fell back asleep. Although she initially considered the option of searching for a clearing without him, she couldn’t risk leaving him unattended. What if the creatures came back? Or what if the worms found him? Furthermore, if nothing else, what if she lost him? What if she managed to find a clearing, but failed to bring him back to the light in time?
Her fingers tightened on her sword hilt. She would save him. She would get him to wake up. For almost a week, she’d been doing her best to persuade herself that she would be able to achieve her goal without worries. However, she already felt doubt creeping in, despite her efforts to remain optimistic. Although she didn’t detect any new concerning symptoms, it felt that he was falling deeper into his sleep.
While he had slept lightly in his normal state, while he was still relatively easily woken in all his previous iterations of losing consciousness, this time was different. Even after several iterations of lifting him onto and settling him down from her back, even after the constant movements demanded by travel, he showed no signs of waking. Even stumbling over a stone, with him on her back, didn’t elicit so much as a stir. If not for his quiet breathing and the soft beating of his heart against her back as she carried him, she would’ve thought him to be dead.
To make matters worse, not a single clearing had come into sight in their days of travel. It became clear to her, with his pallor and weakening heartbeat, that blindly searching wasn’t going to get them anywhere. He didn’t have much time left. If she didn’t change the way she was doing things, he wouldn’t make it. She looked up, in desperation, silently pleading that the heavens send her some sort of guidance.
As if hearing her cries for help, the tree leaves swayed above her. Suddenly, she found herself staring at the solution to their plight. Setting him down and throwing the pack aside, she picked up her sword, she found herself high up in a tree. She couldn’t deny that it was a high climb. The branches almost looked formidable from below, but for his sake, she had to try.
That was how she ended up higher than she’d ever climbed, crazily releasing her hands from the tree, with a sword in her hands frantically hacking away at whatever leaves and small branches that fell within her weapon’s range. She had to save him. For his sake, she couldn’t let herself fail. If she couldn’t find a clearing, she would make her own clearing. Sylin had to live. He had to. He’d promised and she wasn’t going to let him get away with breaking it.
Swallowing tears, she forced herself to continue hacking. Even so, she found her gaze accidentally lingering to the place where she left Sylin. Her inhale was sharper than she intended. He looked so lifeless and small as he laid motionless against a nearby tree. Her vision blurred with unintentional tears. He looked so different from the steady and lively presence that he normally projected.
Biting her lip, she returned her attention to the branches, throwing her blade harshly at an innocent branch. Leaves and branches slowly fell away and decorated the ground beneath her. Decorated the ground around Sylin. Her breath hitched at the thought. Would he really wake? Her heart ached in her chest. It was only then that she realized that the sun was already setting.
She lowered herself from the tree. Standing at its base, drenched in sweat, she looked upward. With the majority of the tree’s branches stripped, there was definitely a visible gap, but it wasn’t enough. Sylin needed to get better. She walked to a neighboring tree, and glanced up. A wave of tiredness washed over her. Maybe, after a break…
She found herself slumping against the three, next to Sylin’s unconscious form. Closing her eyes, she drew her hands together in prayer, as she’d been doing every night since he was injured. Please let him be okay. Lord, please let him hang in there a bit longer… She fell asleep before she finished her thought, more tired than she realized.